We are starting to talk about Church History in Sunday School – aghast me maties! how dare it not be about the bible! I know, right, but since Christianity does not contain itself solely to Scripture, but was before and proceeds from Scripture, I think it’s okay. Beside, we get to talk about divisions, differences, and theology in a rather different way. Personally, I prefer theological formation from the ground up.
So, I thought I’d share because I haven’t posted in a bit.
This week, I hope to engage the earliest non-New Testament writings. While there are some quibbles of the dates, we will go with the middle ground, leaving us a dating for these works around the turn of the first century. There are reasons, of course. Barnabas is between 70 and 132. Clement is supposedly the third Bishop of Rome. Didache knows Matthew’s Gospel and thus cannot come before the 80’s.
Note, at one time, these books were considered by at least some local churches as equal in canonicity to the New Testament writings.
“Well then, there are three ordinances of the Lord; *the hope of life, which is the beginning and end of our faith; and righteousness, which is the beginning and end of judgment; love shown in gladness and exultation, the testimony of works of righteousness. (1.6)”
Pay attention to chapter 2, as this seems to inform Jewish-Christian relations for centuries and points to a theological view of the destruction of the Temple (which you would know about if you had purchased my book. 😉 )
First Clement: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html
“Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.”
But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm. 3But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able; and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.”
Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe; Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 6.